Look, it’s been a minute since we’ve been on holidays. Like real pack your maxi dresses, bring your big sun hat, turn off the work emails, get a pre-pedicure and a spray tan, kind of holiday.
Sure there’s been road trips and staycations, ample self-care appointments, and lots of wine, but there’s nothing quite like a no holds barred holiday. Where you put on your out-of-office with smug glee, hop on a plane and say see you later La Niña, lockdown and all that other stuff that weighs you down.
Enter Palm Cove stage right. Cairns’ secret holiday weapon is located 25 mins north of the downtown and that’s enough of a drive to take you a world away from the wild times we’ve been living in these last few years.
How? First, there’s nothing like some tropical foliage to put out a serious holiday vibe. The suburbs’ namesake palms line the length of the main drag, Williams Esplanade, curving along both the road and the coastline like a leafy fringe. They’ll put you in instant holiday mode.
Then there’s the fact that you can’t stroll more than a few meters down the Esplanade without passing a trendy cafe to grab a coffee or a bite to eat in We make a beeline for Chill at Portofino, whose outdoor terrace and strings of fairy lights beckon literally from sunrise to sunset. It’s as busy at brunch as it is for dinner, with locals telling me to start the day with the Tree Hugger and don’t look back. Eggs, smashed avo, feta, mushrooms and basil pesto set me up for the day. It’s very tempting to linger over juices and smoothies, and if I’d stayed past 11 am when Mimosas are on the menu, I never would have left. Over a few days you’ll have plenty of time to try out other standouts – Vivo feels like a white party is about to break out, Nu Nu does actually host white parties that spill out onto the manicured lawn, there’s Acai bowls, smoothies and top-notch coffee (and locally made peanut butter from The Peanut Project, so good you’ll want to fill your suitcase with several tubs) from hole-in-the-wall cafe 27 Degrees and the list goes on.
Now, what’s a holiday without a bit of pool time and pampering? Resorts like the Alamanda Palm Cove by Lancemore, the Reef House and Peppers Beach Club & Spa each have their own sprawling pools and boutique day spas so you won’t have trouble blessing out in your downtime. Afternoons at the Reef House come with free sorbet by the pool and Monday mindfulness sessions. At the Alamanda, there’s free Yoga throughout the week for guests, held under the palm trees on the front lawn. No soundtrack is necessary for these classes, with the sea just metres away.
Speaking of the sea, Palm Cove’s beach is a thing of beauty. With a stinger net at one end of the beach if you’d like to go for a paddle, the soft sand is perfect for long lazy walks at sunrise or sunset, but it’s also the perfect setting for a seriously luxe picnic that we say is the way to kick off your holiday in style. The Reef House’s private picnics take place on the sand across from the hotel, with hurricane chairs, umbrella and linen-covered picnic table. They had me at linen, but the bubbles and a serious seafood platter seal the deal.
Like any good holiday, there’s a heavy dose of downtime with a side of sightseeing. You’re spoilt for choice, with the Atherton Tablelands an hour’s drive inland and home to hot air ballooning, fresh produce markets and gorgeous homewares stores. There’s Port Douglas 40 minutes to the north, a great jumping-off point to explore the Low Isles of the Great Barrier Reef like we did with Sailaway Reef and Island Tours and home to excellent Sunday Markets. Or you can go walking through Mossman Gorge too. Whatever direction you drive, it’s guaranteed to be scenic viewing. The coastal and inland highways have plenty of spots worth stopping for a photo opp.
With a little adventure, some serious dining, plenty of downtime and a spot of shopping, after a trip to Palm Cove you’ll hop back on that plane knowing you’ve holidayed right this year.
Feeling the holiday mode creeping in? Check out www.tropicalnorthqueensland.org.au
Lisa was the guest of Tourism Tropical North Queensland